Policewoman starts own investigation into son’s disappearance after detectives draw blank
A policewoman whose son has been missing for three months is conducting her own investigation into his disappearance after becoming frustrated at the lack of progress being made by detectives on the case.
Nicola Urquhart, a Pc with Police Scotland, has criticised “strange decisions” and omissions she says have been made by Suffolk Police in their hunt for her son
The RAF gunner vanished in the early hours of September 24 after a night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, around nine miles from his base at RAF Honington.
On Wednesday night Mrs Urquhart, from Dunfermline, set up a live broadcast on her Facebook page to answer questions from the public and keep up the interest in her son’s case, which has dropped out of the headlines because police have not made any breakthroughs.
She has also arranged search parties to systematically check fields in the area and has raised money to hire a private detective to look into leads she says the police have ignored.
She told The Daily Telegraph: “As a police officer, it goes against every grain in my body to publicly say something – I don’t want to be putting the police down.
“But they have made some decisions that I don’t agree with, and they don’t have the resources to do some of the things I have been able to organise. I felt I didn’t have any option but to try and assist them myself.”
Mr McKeague was last seen on CCTV entering a dead end behind some shops at 3.25am. He could not have left the wider area on foot without being picked up on CCTV at street junctions, but the dead end has been searched three times without any sign of him.
Mrs Urquhart is particularly frustrated that while police have questioned staff in shops that back onto the dead end, they have not carried out door-to-door inquiries in the street opposite the entrance to it, where Mr Urquhart could have entered a building out of sight of CCTV.
She said: “There are buildings 20ft away he could have got to that haven’t been searched and the police say they don’t intend to do it. My son could realistically be lying in one of those empty buildings or being kept there against his will, but they have not been searched. I find that ridiculous.
“I’ve also been contacted by a couple who say Corrie was possibly involved with travellers on the night out and there was a disagreement. They have told the police twice, but the police say it’s not something they’re actively looking into.”
Another decision that angered Mrs Urquhart was the police’s refusal to order a search for Mr McKeague’s mobile phone, which was traced leaving Bury St Edmunds and travelling 14 miles in the direction of Barton Mills before it went dead.
One theory is that it had been thrown into a dumpster in the dead end and picked up by a bin lorry, which travelled on that route at the right time, but while the lorry has been searched without success, the refuse sites it used have not been searched for the one and only clue in the case.
“I understand it’s a huge job,”said Mrs Urquhart, 47, “but I’m not happy about them not searching for the phone. It’s the only bit of evidence that’s ever been identified.”
Mrs Urquhart has recruited a legion of volunteers through Facebook to search fields on possible routes out of Bury St Edmunds, and the charity Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue has been co-ordinating the searches so they can be carried out to police standards and crossed off on a grid.
On her Find Corrie Facebook page, which has 76,000 followers, Mrs Urquhart has asked witnesses with information to call one of five mobile phone numbers, manned by family and friends, “due to lack of resources within Suffolk Police”.
Meanwhile Mrs Urquhart – who has also put up a £50,000 reward for information – will hire a private detective in the New Year to chase up leads she thinks are a priority.
A spokesman for Suffolk Police said: “We are still very focused on finding Corrie. Although it is currently a missing persons inquiry, we have given it the same resources as a major investigation.
“We have not ruled out any possibility and we are still trying to trace a handful of people who were in the area at the time, as well as investigating four vehicles that were seen in the area.”